The Effective and Efficient Clinical Negligence Expert Witness

by Michael R Young BA BDS MSc

Forewords by: Lawrence Aitken, Dental Expert Witness and Mike Hill, Barrister

Introduction

Have you have ever wondered what a clinical negligence expert witness does, or thought about becoming one yourself? Or are you a clinical expert witness who wants to make sure their work is watertight in court?

Clinical negligence expert evidence is tough. Your view will be challenged, picked over and, in some cases, simply attacked. In those circumstances this book will be invaluable to you. It will prevent you from making mistakes in the first place and it will assist you when it is wrongly suggested that you have.

Michael Young has written a clear framework within which novices and experts alike can develop their skills, knowledge and their practice. His book sets out what a clinical negligence expert witness will be expected to know and what they will be expected to do. More importantly, it shows you how to do it well: how to engage with solicitors, set your fees and, most importantly, how to write good English. You will find real reports written by real experts and also audio material in which practising experts talk openly about their experiences, giving you a greater insight into this challenging role.

“This work deserves to become the Vade Mecum for the clinician acting as an expert witness.” Academy of Experts

This work deserves to become the Vade Mecum for the clinician acting as an expert witness.

—  Academy of Experts
The Effective and Efficient Clinical Negligence Expert Witness

Details

  • ISBN 978 1 910303 01 6
  • Paperback and e-book versions available
  • Published October 2014
  • Price: £60

Click here to order a copy

Author's Introduction

This is the second edition of How To Be an Effective Expert Witness, except that this newer edition has a different title: The Effective and Efficient Clinical Negligence Expert Witness.

Looking back at the first edition, I think it was no more than a short introduction to the work of the clinical negligence expert witness. When it was suggested that I write a second edition, my first thought was, ‘What more is there to say?’ As it turned out, there was plenty. Therefore, I have expanded much of the material, because once I began to think about it, the more I realised there was actually a great deal more that needed to be said.

Unlike in the first edition, I have included some real reports written by real experts. I have done this for two reasons: first, to let anyone who is new to expert witness work see for him- or herself what an expert report looks like; second, because the reports are there to critique as part of helping experts (new and old) improve their own report writing skills.

I have also included many of my own experiences from my days as an expert, which I hope adds a realistic feel to the narrative. My anecdotes, which are written in a more conversational style, are displayed in boxes, as are a couple of other things that I thought would look better if they too were set apart from the surrounding writing.

The biggest difference is that the second edition includes audio material in which practising experts talk openly about their experiences, giving the reader a greater insight into this challenging role.

I have updated some material in light of recent developments surrounding the role of the expert witness in civil litigation. These new developments will, I think, see the rise of the ‘super expert’, the expert who is able to deliver what the legal profession wants, in exactly the way legal professionals want it, when they want it and, most important, within budget.

Most of my expert work was for the claimant, and for this reason most of the material in this book is written from the expert- working- for- the- claimant’s perspective. Working for the defendant is no different: claimants just happen to be proactive, whereas defendants tend to be reactive.

A few notes regarding terminology used in this book: for brevity I have at times shortened the term ‘expert witness’ to ‘expert’.

Clinicians talk about ‘patients’; solicitors and barristers talk about ‘clients’; at some point patients and clients become ‘the claimant’. I use all three terms depending on the context.

Throughout this book I refer to members of the legal profession as ‘solicitor’, ‘barrister’ or ‘lawyer’. A solicitor is the person instructed by the client and who in turn then instructs the expert; a barrister gives legal advice to the solicitor; the term ‘lawyer’ refers to both a solicitor and a barrister.

Forewords

Lawrence Aitken,

Mike Young has written an excellent book for the aspiring, novice and the more experienced clinical negligence expert witness, in what for many doctors and dentists can be a very confusing, intimidating but fascinating area of work. The book is primarily aimed at the clinician who is perhaps thinking of moving into the arena of medico-legal work. If you like the idea of analysing case histories, reading the medical literature and writing reports for lawyers, and are either already involved, or are seriously interested in, working as a clinical negligence expert witness then this book is definitely for you.

After completing an MS degree in restorative dentistry at the University of Michigan, I commenced my practising life in the West End of London. This was prior to the establishment of prosthodontics as a specialty; however, referrals needing specialist care soon started to arrive. Eventually the inevitable happened and I received a letter from a solicitor who was actually a patient, asking me to assess a potential negligence case they had recently taken on. I wish this book had been around then as I had no idea how to approach a situation such as this. The solicitor sent me an initial letter of approach and asked me to consider the case. It appeared to be an interesting challenge so rather naively I took it on. Not knowing how to do a Causation and Liability report, I investigated the case as if I were doing a clinical consultation. But with a great deal of help and guidance from the solicitor and using all my clinical expertise and knowledge, I finally wrote and handed over the necessary report to the solicitor. However, in retrospect, the case took me a very long time, not least when it came to writing the report. I don’t mind admitting that I floundered, not knowing what the format or the layout should be. I was like a fish out of water.

This book is important because it covers in great detail every area that is relevant, necessary and important to the clinician acting as an expert witness. It tells you how to engage with solicitors, set your fees and, most importantly, how to write good English. It covers the macro and microstructure of a report plus the structure of the two main types of clinical negligence reports – the Causation and Liability and the Condition and Prognosis reports – and also shows you how to write Screening reports and Combined reports. There is even a useful section about writing reports for the General Dental Council or the General Medical Council. A huge amount of preparation goes into writing a report and it can be time consuming. You charge for your time so it is important that you manage it well and Mike details thoroughly how to do this. With his help you should be able to reduce the time spent writing each report, whilst becoming more effective and efficient. I cannot think of any aspect of the work and role of the clinical negligence expert witness that this book does not cover.

Mike has brought this new edition up to date by including a helpful appraisal of the Jackson Report and how this will affect the expert witness. At the end of the book Mike provides examples of real case reports. These will prove invaluable aids for the new or inexperienced expert. This is a book that every clinical negligence expert should read, as well as medical negligence solicitors who might need to point their experts in the right direction. Above all, the book is of a manageable size, well laid out and a very easy read. It is far from being ‘dry’ by including many anecdotes from Mike’s own career that are laced with humour. If you are involved in clinical negligence or wish to become an expert witness then this is definitely the book for you.

Lawrence Aitken
Dental Expert Witness 

Mike Hill,

I am delighted to have been asked to write a foreword to the second edition of this important book. The very fact that there are two forewords tells us something: that this is an area of expertise that sits in the no- man’s land between medicine and law. The lawyers can know a lot about medicine and dentistry. After all, it is really only the theory that requires to be known. The doctors and dentists can know about the law should they read a few dozen books, but there is a unique breed of professionals that knows medicine or dentistry and knows what the lawyers need to know.

What do the lawyers want or need from an expert? It is all too easy to lose sight of that. What is required is evidence. The courts thrive on evidence; without it, there is no justice. The judge wasn’t present at the time that the dispute arose. So the court devours and analyses in minute detail the evidence the parties put before it to assess the disputes of fact. And, in many cases, that is all the evidence that is needed.

But in a medical negligence case, the judge cannot reach a conclusion even when the facts have been determined because they are no expert in medicine or dentistry. They require assistance in assessing the standard to which the defendant is to be compared. And that is the role of the expert witness: to present that evidence to a judge so that a judge may apply the facts that he or she has found, to that standard.

That job of course, in modern litigation, is done largely in writing and that is why the expert report has become the central pillar of the expert witness’s work. But many forget that it does not end there. The vast majority of expert reports will go no further but some will undoubtedly end up in a trial. This book never loses sight of that because it allows the reader to get the report right first time, each time.

This is a practical, insightful guide written by the best of teachers – experience – through Mike’s words. Mike has plenty of it and it is great to see that it is being put to such good use. And it is needed too. Clinical negligence expert evidence is not a sport for wimps. Your view will be challenged, picked over and, in some cases, simply attacked. In those circumstances this book will be invaluable to you. It will prevent you from making mistakes in the first place and it will assist you when it is wrongly suggested that you have.

So why do it if it’s so tough? Because challenging is the bedfellow of rewarding. To be tested and to get it right brings professional satisfaction every bit as real as the curved root canal fully obturated or the medically anxious child bearing a post-operative smile. There is always an end beneficiary. Be it the defendant clinician wrongly criticised and professionally worried or the injured claimant who has lost what cannot be replaced, someone always benefits hugely when justice is done. And justice cannot be done without expert witnesses. So, if you have never carried out such work, I urge you to do so and you’ll be glad you have this book with you when you do. And if you’ve written a hundred reports I guarantee you’ll learn something you didn’t know and that your work will be all the better for it.

I just wish there was a book called How to Cross-examine the Effective Expert Witness.


Mike Hill
Barrister
Trinity Chambers
http://www.mikehillbarrister.com

Contents List

Contents

Section 1: Context

  • What is an expert witness?
  • What you need to know
  • What is an expert report?
  • Why the Data Protection Act 1998 is important
  • The Jackson reforms

Section 2: Preparation

  • Finding work
  • Where does the work come from?
  • Writing an effective CV
  • Your skills as an expert witness
  • Marketing yourself
  • Price: setting your fees
  • Promoting yourself
  • Professional indemnity insurance
  • Writing effective letters
  • Improving your written English
  • Managing your time
  • Managing your cases: paper versus technology
  • Terms of Business
  • Continuing professional development

Section 3: The sharp end

  • Your first instructions
  • Making notes
  • Macrostructure of a report
  • Microstructure of a report
  • Sources of evidence
  • The screening report
  • The liability and causation report
  • The clinical negligence clinical examination
  • The current condition and prognosis report
  • The combined report
  • Writing a report for the General Medical Council or General Dental Council
  • Editing and redrafting
  • What’s next?
  • The barrister
  • The case conference
  • The experts’ meeting
  • Court appearances
  • Getting paid
  • Finishing off
  • Summary

  • Exercise: criticism of sample reports
  • Example of a screening report
  • Example of a liability and causation report
  • Example of a current condition and prognosis report
  • Useful contacts
  • Index

Reviews

Recommended Text for Expert Witnesses :

"I have now read both editions of this text and can say that not only is it is an excellent book for established witnesses to refer to as a refresher, but is a superb text for those starting out in expert witness work.

Despite the title, this is not just relevant to those in clinical negligence, as the format for other types of professional report will often be similar. The style of writing is engaging and simple to understand, but does not seek to patronise the reader. It is certainly not written in an overly dry and academic style, and the knowledge and experience of the author shine through easily. The book is well laid out, and the order of the chapters follow a logical path.

The introduction to the concepts of both Bolam and Bolitho is especially important in a book of this type as those at the start of medico-legal careers may not be familiar with these important cases yet. The book also discusses the recent Jackson Report and in particular how it will affect the expert witness in the modern world.

The use of examples throughout the book from the author’s years of experience in the field is invaluable, and whilst obviously anonymous, these are suitably detailed such that the reader can understand easily the concepts introduced. There are also useful anecdotes about various pitfalls to look out for. Example reports and layouts are also included, which are most useful in seeing how a good report should be laid out.

The book not only deals with the types of report that an expert will be required to produce, but also with business aspects such as billing, terms and conditions, and very importantly, time management. "

I thoroughly recommend this book to any person looking into writing expert witness reports…..:

Having read and used Michael Young's previous offering on writing expert witness reports, I was interested to see this new book.

It is an outstanding document for any doctor or dentist involved in the expert witness field, providing help and guidance for new and experienced writers.

I thoroughly recommend this book to any person looking into writing these challenging and rewarding expert witness reports.

The title of this book encapsulates what is inside:

Any medic or dentist with one eye on working as a clinical negligence expert witness will find everything they need about how to be a brilliant expert. The book covers everything I can think of that the expert needs and should know to discharge their duties to the legal profession. I like the layout, which is uncluttered. The author’s writing style is very user friendly, which I found easy to get on with and so I could read the whole book in one sitting. I have not come across another book that deals with the subject as comprehensibly as this one does.

I would recommend The Effective and Efficient Clinical Negligence Expert Witness to anyone who is thinking about moving into expert witness work. I think the more experienced expert would also find the book very useful.

The British Dental Journal:

“The key elements fundamental in becoming an excellent expert witness are summarised in a coherent fashion by Dr Young. The aspiring medical or dental expert witness will not find a better guide and I recommend this book without reservation.”

The medical charity Action Against Medical Accidents:

‘It is a comprehensive account of all aspects of acting as an expert witness, including report writing, P35 meetings and court appearances’. They also ‘recommend it to Lawyers’ Service members … in order to refer experts to specific sections’.

Balanced and informative read for all clinicians:

As an experienced Expert Witness, I read Michael Young`s book wondering what I might learn. As it happens, it put a lot into perspective and made me think further about my individual practice - not just as an Expert but as a General Dental Practitioner too. In particular, Michael reminded me to take a more balanced and open view of events and to put forward more than one explanation.

This will be really helpful reading for all young dentists and open their eyes to the world of litigation and I can be sure that anyone reading this will be a safer and more effective practitioner as a result. Written with an open style that should not be daunting to anyone, I highly recommend this book to all.

Buy this book!:

This book is just what any aspiring expert witness needs. It clearly and precisely takes the reader through the potential maze of producing professionally written reports that may be used in negligence and personal injury cases. I have my first report to write and having this book by my side along the way is proving invaluable.all.

Buy this book!:

This book is just what any aspiring expert witness needs. It clearly and precisely takes the reader through the potential maze of producing professionally written reports that may be used in negligence and personal injury cases. I have my first report to write and having this book by my side along the way is proving invaluable.all.

A good place for the aspiring Expert Witness to start:

As a clinical psychologist with training and experience in Expert Witness work, I was very interested to read this book - which is essentially a Beginner’s Guide to Expert Witness work for doctors and dentists - and judge its usefulness for a different clinical discipline.

When I was beginning Expert Witness work, I should have liked to have read this book which goes into great detail about the context of the job and the tasks involved in the role. I liked the down-to-earth, practical advice on how to prepare for the work and, particularly, the way the author helps the would-be Expert to adopt realistic expectations of the rewards and demands of the job.

Many of the themes - writing your CV, marketing your service, effective writing - can be studied at greater length and depth in other writings, if required, and I liked the way the author gave links to internet and other sources. Psychologist Expert Witnesses would also benefit from using other professional resources specifically addressing their needs and the author has given references to other training courses where these might be found.

I recommend this book. It is a helpful and reader-friendly resource which has its place on the shelf of any aspiring Expert Witness.

Easy to read and understand for novice and experienced experts!:

This easy to read page-turner is a must read for all experts in the field of clinical negligence, as well as those writing reports for personal injury.

As an AHP expert I tend not to get involved with liability, causation, condition and prognosis, but the first half of this book remained relevant to the quantum reports I write and reiterates and refreshes the importance of the duties and obligations I have as an expert under the CPR Part 35 and its associated practice direction. The latter half is not as directly relevant to me; however it is useful in terms of understanding what is expected of the rest of the team of experts.The style and flow of the book is great, and offers clear and pertinent information and examples.

I would recommend this book to all experts writing liability, causation, condition and prognosis reports because reports written as per this text would certainly facilitate the subsequent recommendations I make when relying on such medical evidence.

Essential reading for anyone wanting to enter the world of Clinical Negligence work:

This is a book written by a dentist for dentists. I think it should be read not only by dentists wanting to enter the "lions den" of clinical negligence work as an expert witness but also new and experienced dentists so they understand how the legal system works around clinical negligence cases. In this modern world of dentistry we can all expect to get a letter from a solicitor at least once in our careers and to know how the process works not only for the expert witness but also how the solicitors and barristers operate is important. This easy to read publication gives us this, plus the addition of the author's own experience makes this an extremely useful book.

Having done expert witness work for many years the opening sections of the book brought back memories of how I felt when I started out and the questions that I needed answering. As a busy general dental practitioner and father, fitting in expert witness work can be difficult and it is important to know the obstacles ahead and plan for what can be long and challenging work.

This book can answer those questions and how to put together the different reports that solicitors require is essential for the first few cases. The examples at the end of the book are great. It also helps you understand the most important part of the work, how to get paid correctly for the hours of work you will have to put in!

This book is essential reading for any young or old dentist wanting to enter into clinical negligence work as an expert witness.

Essential reading:

This book is essential reading for anyone entering the arena of clinical negligence expert witness work, and as an an aide-memoir for those already established in the field. The chapters are well organised, and the book contains up to date information. There is good practical advice and plenty of guidance on the structure of the types of reports required. All in all a very valuable book.

Buy this book:

Very useful for the professional wanting to start out on the expert witness path.

Sample Chapter

What you need to know

This is not a legal textbook; however, as an expert you will need to know about the civil legal process, and you will need to have a very good understanding of the legal tests that lawyers apply in clinical negligence claims. You must also know about the Civil Procedure Rules Part 35 (CPR 35, or sometimes abbreviated to Part 35), which sets out how a case is to be effectively and efficiently managed by the solicitor and the expert.

CPR 35 covers the following aspects of your work:

● your duties as an expert
● the range and scope of your expert advice
● the terms of your appointment
● how the solicitor will instruct you
● how you should accept instructions
● when and how you can withdraw from a case
● what you must include in your reports
● what happens after the solicitor has received your report
● under what circumstances you can amend a report
● how discussions between experts are to be conducted
● your attendance at court.

There is so much information about CPR 35 on the Internet, not all of it relevant to clinical negligence, that to save time I would ask for guidance from the instructing solicitor as to exactly what are your legal terms of reference, and your role and responsibilities. The solicitor should only give you the bits that are relevant to you.

The first thing to understand is the concept of duty of care. Every clinician owes a legal duty to his or her patients to exercise reasonable care and skill in diagnosing, advising and treating them. The law imposes this duty independently of any contract with the patient and arises out of the doctor or dentist’s assumption of responsibility to provide care for the patient. It does not matter whether the clinician is treating a patient under the National Health Service or privately, that duty of care still holds true. The clinician breaches his or her duty of care if he or she fails to meet the standard of care required by law. Breach of duty of care is also known as negligence. The basic test for negligence is whether the defendant’s conduct was reasonable in all the circumstances. (The defendant is the doctor or dentist being accused of negligence.)

However, the word ‘negligence’ has particular meaning for lawyers. It does not simply mean carelessness. A mistake is not necessarily negligent. Negligence in a legal sense can only be found where three things are established.

1. Fault. For solicitors to establish a claim they have to show that the investigation or treatment in question fell below the standard of a reasonably competent practitioner in the relevant field. The test for assessing criticism of the investigation or treatment is whether the allegations can be justified ‘on the balance of probabilities’ (more likely than not) rather than the more rigorous proof ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ (amounting effectively to certainty) required in criminal cases. It may be a defence to show that a substantial body of reputable practitioners in the relevant field would have
carried out the investigation or treatment in the same way as the defendant did. The existence of a body of reputable practitioners who would have carried out the investigations or treatment as the defendant did is not of itself a defence. The court will decide which body of expert advice it prefers, and, in addition, the court is entitled to consider whether the practice was responsible.

2. Causation. The solicitors have to show that it was this fault, or these faults, in the investigations or treatments that caused, or materially contributed to, the injury complained of. In other words, what difference has the faulty investigations or treatments made?

3. Damage. The solicitors need to be able to show that the injury is one for which the law will provide compensation. In general terms, compensation will be paid in cases where fault and causation have been established and where damage has occurred.

The standard of care expected of a professional person, such as a doctor or dentist, is that of a reasonable professional. The test of professional negligence is known as the Bolam test.

The test is the standard of the ordinary skilled man exercising and professing
to have that special skill. A man need not possess the highest expert skill at the
risk of being found negligent … it is well established law that it is sufficient if
he exercises the ordinary skill of a competent man exercising that particular art.

What this means for the expert witness is that you have to remember that you are not judging the doctor or dentist’s work by the standard of the most experienced or highly qualified practitioner in his or her field. A general practitioner must be judged by the standards expected of a reasonably competent general practitioner. Likewise, a consultant (in whatever specialism) should be judged against the standards of a reasonably competent consultant. The expert must always compare like for like.
However, there is a second part to the Bolam test:

A doctor [or dentist] is not guilty of negligence if he has acted in accordance
with a practice accepted as proper by a responsible body of medical men skilled
in that particular art … Putting it the other way around, a doctor [or dentist] is
not negligent if he is acting in accordance with such a practice, merely because
there is a body of opinion that took a contrary view.

Just because there are two ways of doing something does not mean that one of them is wrong. However, it is not as straightforward as that. Expert medical opinion will not be simply accepted by the court but, rather, it must withstand logical analysis:

The court has to be satisfied that the exponents of the body of opinion relied upon can
demonstrate that such an opinion has a logical basis. In particular in cases involving, as
they so often do, the weighing of risks against benefits, the judge before accepting a body
of opinion as being responsible, reasonable or respectable, will need to be satisfied that, in
forming their views, the experts have directed their mind to the comparative risks and
benefits and have reached a defensible conclusion on the matter.

This is the essence of the Bolitho test, which as an expert you must also know about.

What this all comes down to is that, as an expert, you have to be able to ascertain whether or not the doctor or dentist breached his or her duty of care, such that the care and/or treatment the doctor or dentist gave fell below an acceptable standard, i.e. liability. You will then have to consider whether or not the substandard care and/or treatment caused physical injury and financial loss and expense, i.e. causation. There are two further questions you might want to ask yourself:

1. How should a reasonable, responsible and respectable body of medical/dental practitioners have conducted themselves?

2. Can I provide a logical explanation for what was actually done (or omitted), knowing all of the facts of the case?

Before the publication of the Woolf Report (Access to Justice) in 1996 civil litigation had always been slow and expensive, which naturally favoured those with the most money. The whole process was run by the litigants and not by the courts.

You can read about the Woolf reforms and their impact on the civil litigation process on the website of the Law Society Gazette (see www.lawgazette.co.uk/50942.article).

More recently, the Jackson Report (Review of Civil Litigation: Final Report) was another attempt to control costs and speed up the civil litigation process.
There are two things in the report that have a direct bearing on your work.

First, the costs in a case must be proportionate to the overall value of the case. Gone are the days when the expert could expect to be paid £2000 in a case that was only worth £3000. The people footing the bill (more often than not an insurance company) are now more likely to tell you how much they are going to pay you rather than you telling them how much you want.

Second, the courts will be sticking to very strict deadlines for the submission of expert reports and will impose harsh penalties, such as your evidence being struck out, if it is delivered out of time. I will discuss how you can survive in the post-Jackson era later; for now let’s look at the post-Woolf era. Typically, the stages in a clinical negligence claim and expert involvement are as follows.

1. The individual (potential claimant) approaches a solicitor.

2. The solicitor accepts the potential claimant’s instructions.

3. Funding will be confirmed.

4. The solicitor will begin his or her investigation by obtaining the relevant medical and/or dental records and instructing an appropriately qualified expert, or experts, to advise, possibly only on a preliminary basis at this stage. The solicitor may initially only instruct one expert, but others may be needed later in complex cases. An initial screening report, which is not for disclosure to the defendant’s lawyers, may be required, as might a clinical examination of the claimant.

5. If the investigations support a claim of negligence, the solicitor sends a Letter of Claim to the potential defendant’s representatives in accordance with the Pre-Action Protocol.

6. The defence is allowed a set time (as set out in the Pre-Action Protocol) in which to respond to the Letter of Claim with what is called a Letter of Response. The defendant may obtain expert advice before he or she serves the Letter of Response.

7. Some cases might be settled at this stage. If no Letter of Response is received, or if some issues remain in dispute, then an expert or experts will be instructed by the claimant’s solicitor to provide a CPR 35 or ‘court-compliant’ report clarifying issues of liability and causation. A court- compliant report dealing with the claimant’s current condition and prognosis might also be required. Sometimes a combined report dealing with all of these issues is prepared. These first reports, sometimes called draft reports, despite being CPR 35 compliant, are not usually disclosed to the defendant’s lawyers.

8. Once the claimant’s solicitor is in receipt of the liability and causation report or reports, and if liability has been denied, he or she will instruct a barrister to draft the Particulars of Claim. The barrister relies on the expert’s liability and causation report when drawing up the Particulars of
Claim.

9. The Particulars of Claim are sent to the defendant’s representatives.

10. The barrister will also prepare a Preliminary Schedule of Loss, setting out the claimant’s past and anticipated future financial losses. The barrister relies on the expert’s current condition and prognosis report when drawing this up.

11. After proceedings are served, the court will hold a ‘case management conference’ – a hearing to set the procedural timetable for the future conduct of the claim. Dates for the exchange of factual evidence, the exchange of expert evidence, and for the experts to meet will be fixed at this meeting. Solicitors should inform the experts they instruct of the various deadlines on the case, including when a trial date has been fixed. All parties will be asked for their unavailability, usually for a given 3- month trial window.

12. The defendant’s barrister will draft a defence based on the defendant expert or experts’ evidence. This must be served within so many days of service of proceedings as set out under CPR 15.

13. Factual evidence will be exchanged in accordance with the court timetable. If acting for the claimant, you will be expected to consider the defendant’s factual evidence and you may need to amend or expand your draft report, which is then disclosed to the defendant’s lawyers, accordingly. The factual evidence may have no effect on your opinion, it may confirm your initial view, or it may cause you to change your view. It is important that if you change your view you must tell your instructing solicitor as soon as possible.

14. Experts’ reports are exchanged between the claimant’s and the defendant’s lawyers. You will be given a copy of the defendant’s expert’s report and will be asked to comment on it.

15. Agendas for experts’ meetings are drawn up and agreed by the lawyers. Areas of agreement and disagreement between the experts are identified.

16. The experts meet to try to narrow the issues.

17. Unless the defendant admits liability and/or unless the case settles, the case will proceed to trial. Sometimes expert evidence can be agreed and experts may not need to attend trial to give evidence. The case only proceeds to trial if the differences are significant and cannot be resolved. You won’t be involved in the day-to-day management of a case, but you should be aware of what goes on behind the scenes, as it were.

If you are new to expert witness work, ask a solicitor for guidance notes on the legal aspects of your role. The majority of law firms are only too happy to provide these, as it saves their time (and yours) by ensuring that everyone involved in a case knows exactly what they are supposed to be doing and when they are supposed to do it.

The law is not static: it is constantly evolving, so keep up to date. One way of doing this is to become a member of an expert witness organisation. You should also periodically ask your instructing solicitors if there have been any significant changes to the guidance for experts.

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